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TPG reader Mike emailed me to ask:
“Does the British Airways Visa still make sense post-devaluation? I know there are some potentially better options for earning Avios, but the two-for-one and 10% airfare discount are intriguing.”
This past week we got some bad news regarding the British Airways Executive Club Program. As of April 28, 2015, the number of Avios points needed for business and first class awards will be increasing. However, economy class redemptions are unchanged; in fact, they might be even cheaper if you’re flying economy at non-peak times. Depending on how you use your Avios, this could be good news or bad.
When thinking about whether or not to keep the British Airways Visa Signature Card, you have to think about the value it offers you. The base earning is 1.25 Avios points per dollar spent, which is more than the typical one mile or point per dollar spent on most co-branded airline credit cards. There’s also currently an offer for 10% off when you use the card to purchase British Airways flights.
If you redeem for economy (especially economy short-haul flights) this card will earn you more Avios than any other card (unless you get an Amex and hope for transfer bonuses). While I don’t recommend using the Travel Together Ticket for economy redemptions (because of high taxes and fees), it could still be a good deal in business/first. New York to London round-trip is currently 80,000 miles in business class, and will increase to 120,000 miles in April, but two tickets for around $2,000 could still be a good deal depending on how you value redemptions. If you’re used to paying $4,000-$5,000 for a business class ticket, clearly it’s a great value.
I still need to use my Travel Together Ticket, and I’ve noticed that recently British Airways has pulled back a lot of its Business/First class availability, so I’m having a hard time booking out of New York on the dates I want to go. However, you can use the ticket on Open Skies, and they do have some availability from New York to Paris.
In general, the British Airways devaluation isn’t good news, but it’s also not catastrophic, and if you know how to maximize Avios, it’s business as usual. I’m still going to continue holding onto my British Airways Visa, and if you don’t yet have the card, you should definitely get it, because the 50,000 Avios sign-up bonus.